Suspicion is brewing among Katsina rice farmers regarding the process of selecting beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrower Programme by the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).
Many of the farmers are questioning their exclusion from the programme despite following all the necessary processes including payment of N500 registration fee each.
One of the farmers in Funtua, Umar Dani, said they were formed into clusters of 20 farmers and made to submit applications through ward leaders of RIFAN but that they were not captured in the biometric data conducted some weeks ago.
“We only heard about it from those that are successful that their biometric data was captured some weeks ago, and they are expecting the distribution of inputs in the next two weeks.
“We are pained because despite our contact numbers submitted in our forms, nobody cared to inform us about the status of our applications,” said Umar Sani.
He added that most of the genuine rice farmers who reside in remote areas were left out of the programme as the cluster system turned into a sort of family and friends affair.
Another farmer, Malam Salisu Barebari, said when they were asked to pay N500 each, many of the farmers declined because of the bitter experience they had in the previous Anchor Borrower Programme process.
“In the last two years, many fraudsters took advantage of our inexperience and went round rural areas with laptops and iPads collecting money (N500 – N1000) from unsuspecting farmers as registration fee for the programme. We later discovered that we were only duped; that is why many of us declined to show interest in this RIFAN programme when we were informed of another round of demand for N500 per head,” Malam Salisu said.
He enjoined the Federal Government to device a reliable means of reaching out to peasant farmers in remote areas of the country because they need the assistance most.
When contacted, the organising secretary and state coordinator service providers, RIFAN Katsina State, Abubakar Idris Isah, said the N500 charged per farmer was registration cost and certificate for their respective clusters.
“In the first phase of the programme farmers were selected individually and there were no charges from our association. Because we encountered problems in repayment of the loan due to unclear addresses of the beneficiaries, so we decided to form clusters of 20 farmers each. That N500 from each farmer covers their registration as cooperative society and cost of their certificates,” he said.
On why many of the farmers were not captured in the biometric data despite going through the processes including payment of N500 each, Isah said they received the applications of over 120,000 farmers in Katsina State but only a little over 15,800 were successful.
“We submitted applications of over 120,000 farmers to CBN from which they screened out those that have no BVN or account name and BVN asymmetry, and unregistered phone numbers.
There were also bad debtors; those who failed in repayment of their previous loans but applied for this new one. At last those that scaled through and made it to biometric data capture were only a little over 15,800 farmers in the whole of the state,” Isah explained.
He said to make the payment easier and more successful, each cluster has a chairman, secretary and treasurer who were tasked to recover the loan of the 20 farmers in their cluster.
Efforts to speak with the state RIFAN chairman for further clarification proved abortive as several calls put through his number were not answered up to the time of filing this report.
Source: Daily Trust